Butter-steamed lemon sole, English garden pesto, asparagus and pea salad

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Paul Foster presents an ingenious method for cooking delicate white fish in his butter-steamed lemon sole recipe. The fillets are placed on a sheet of buttered parchment paper and into a hot pan, ensuring a gentle heat is used to cook and steam the fish to perfection in just a couple of minutes. The sole is served with a salad of peas and asparagus and a stunning garden pesto.

First published in 2018




Lemon sole

Salad dressing

Garden pesto

Asparagus and pea salad


  • Vitamix Ascent A3500


For the dressing, whisk together a squeeze of lemon juice, the Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar until combined. Slowly pour in the rapeseed oil until emulsified, then set aside in the fridge
To make the pesto, add the coriander, mint, parsley, garlic and cheese to the Vitamix container, along with half of the oil. Start blending on 1 and increase the speed, adding more oil to adjust the consistency. Stir in the lemon zest and salt to taste and set aside
To prepare the salad, remove the woody ends of the asparagus and cut across the spears into thin slices until you are one inch from the tips. Cut the tips into quarters lengthways. Season the asparagus with sea salt and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Blanch the peas in boiling water for 1 minute, or until just cooked, and refresh in iced water to cool. Drain well
Fillet and skin the lemon soles – you can ask your fishmonger to do this for you, if preferred. Spread half of the butter onto one side of a square of parchment paper, season with salt and place two of the fish fillets on top of the butter. Season and fold the parchment over to cover the fillets. Repeat with the remaining fillets and set aside
When ready to serve, place the fish in the parchment paper in a hot, heavy-based pan and cook for 1 minute, butter-side down. Turn over and remove the pan from the heat to allow the fish to cook in the residual heat. Add some dressing to the salad, mixing to coat
Add the asparagus to a bowl and stir in some of the dressing. Gently mix in the peas and shallot and season to taste
When the fish is cooked, season with salt and lemon juice. Check the seasoning of all of the elements and arrange on a warm plates. Garnish with mustard frill cress and serve

Focused, skilled and intelligent, Paul Foster works with the materials he has around him to create extraordinary dishes which sing with a vibrancy perfectly in tune with their surroundings.

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